Festive Foraging

Your garden can help provide a very merry Christmas, if you know what you’re looking for and how to use it. Here's some stylish decoration suggestions to make yourself from designer Kristy Ramage.
 

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GARDEN BAUBLES 
I collect things from the garden all the time. Baskets and bowls of seed-heads, moss and wind-fall crab apples make their way on to window sills and side tables in all seasons. For Christmas it feels well worth putting in a little extra effort to make the garden finds look more special. These baubles are all really simple to make - but are very effective hanging from a mantelpiece or shelf.

Materials:
Bauble 1: Moss and old man’s beard on chicken wire
Bauble 2: Nigella seed-heads on florists’ stub wire (14” or 360 x 1.2mm)
Bauble 3: Crab apple and rosemary on florists’ stub wire (14” or 360 x 1.2mm)
 

To Make:
Bauble 1: Wearing some protective gloves, cut a piece of chicken wire about 12 x 20cm and form it into a cylinder, crush the top and bottom inwards to form a ball of about 8cm diameter. Bend any straight spike ends over to secure and using pliers pull out and twist a loop for attaching a ribbon. Cover with moss, if it’s damp it sticks and forms into a ball really easily. Secure with some florists stub wire bent like hair pins, push them through the ball, then bend them back on themselves to hold the moss in place. Hang with a ribbon, then push the stems of the fluffy seed-heads into the moss and wire.

Bauble 2: Take two pieces of stub wire, 36cm (14”) long and wrap them around a honey jar to form two open rings. Thread the Nigella seed-heads on to one, then thread the second wire ring through the bottom seed-head at 90° to the first one. Add seed-heads either side of the fixed bottom one and twist the ends of the wire together to close the rings and make a loop for the ribbon.

Bauble 3: Make as bauble 2 but thread with alternating crab apples and rosemary, having first pierced them with an awl or compass point. As you tighten the ring, the crab apples squeeze the rosemary and you can arrange the sprigs like a star burst.

 

TRAILING IVY AND CRAB APPLE GARLAND
This simple garland can decorate a painting or mirror, or form a ring on the Christmas table, hung festoon-like over the top edge of a cupboard, or twisted around the banisters of a staircase.

Materials:
• Lengths of marbled trailing ivy
• Crab apples
• Ribbon
• Black cotton thread

To Make:
First thread the crab apples on to the ribbon using a bodkin or tapestry needle with a large eye. Pierce the crab apples with an awl first if they are very hard. They should stay in position on the ribbon, as you space them out. Fix the end of the ribbon and two strands of trailing ivy together by binding them tightly with black cotton and tying off. Hook the end on something stable, like a door knob while you loosely plait the ivy and ribbon together. Add more trailing ivy as it thins out (you can bind it with black thread), and keep it loose enough to allow the leaves plenty of space, and malleable enough to curl around a picture frame. Leave some tendrils to escape at the side, they naturally form such lovely wispy shapes.

 

MOSS AND BERRY HANGING 
Two tiers of moss rings are the perfect base for twining and tucking in any berries and fresh flowers you can find in the garden. These bright red berries of black bryony (Tamus commmunis) grow on long vine like strands in hedgerows but beware – the berries are poisonous, so make sure you hang them out of reach of children.

Materials:
• Wire wreath frame 1 x 25.5cm and 1 x 33cm diameter (or make your own them from galvanised wire)
• Garden string and ribbon - 4 lengths 100cm long
• Moss, berries and fresh flower heads (these are from perennial wallflowers (Erysimum 'Bowles's Mauve') but use any small brave fresh flowers that you can find.
To Make:
Wrap the wire rings in thin soft wire to give a base for the moss. Tie 4 x 1m lengths of brown string onto the outer edge of the bottom ring, then leaving a gap of approximately 16cm tie the strings onto the top ring. Knot and loop the remaining string approximately 16cm above the top ring. Press damp moss over both rings top and bottom, and wrap invisible, thin soft wire around the moss to hold it in place. Add ribbon and lengths of berries to the string (this is much easier if it is already hanging up) and thread the stems of the flowers into the moss rings – they’ll dry over a day or two, so add fresh ones, or enjoy the darkening colour of the drying flowers.

 

• All decorations were designed by Kristy Ramage, who works with Arne Maynard. You can find more ideas in the December 2012 issue (no.192) 

 

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